Tommy Clayton chuckled when he heard that his DeSales High School boys lacrosse coach, Matt Triplet, called him the team's "boring guy."
The junior attacker did not disagree, however.
"I think so," Clayton said. "I've always let my play talk for me. I am not a big talker. I like to be a finisher who will do some feeding and dodging as well. I think that's what I bring."
Clayton has continued to stand out as the Stallions pursue the Division II, Region 7 championship. He had three goals and an assist in a 19-1 win over visiting and fifth-seeded Kettering Alter in a regional semifinal May 21, raising his total in a five-game stretch to 16 goals and seven assists before top-seeded DeSales plays second-seeded Buckeye Valley or third-seeded Watterson in the regional final Thursday, May 24, at a neutral site to be determined.
"He does a solid job game in and game out, but he doesn't get a ton of love," Triplet said. "He is just one of those guys who, when he is on the field, plays hard. When you need a clutch goal, he gets a clutch goal, but he doesn't do all the celebration. He isn't loud or boisterous when he's off the field. He is just quiet, comes in, does his job as a good team player and when he is done, he shuts down."
The Stallions are 16-3.
Clayton had three goals and two assists in a 16-14 loss at eventual Division I, Region 3 semifinalist New Albany on May 8. Two nights later, he had two goals and an assist in a 13-5 win over Olentangy Orange, then four goals in an 18-0 rout of 14th-seeded Johnstown in the first round of the regional tournament May 14 at home and four goals and three assists in a 16-3 win over 10th-seeded Columbus Academy in a regional quarterfinal May 17 at home.
"We talked a lot about refocusing after (the loss to New Albany)," Clayton said. "Honestly, I think we got a little complacent. We found out we can lose and rebound better than we were before."
DeSales had won 13 consecutive games on the field before May 8, but an 8-5 win at Springboro on April 21 later was forfeited because of an ineligible player. The Stallions self-reported the violation to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
"That (loss to New Albany) was a lesson for our guys about overlooking things and not focusing on the task at hand," Triplet said. "We just have to focus on our job and not overlook anybody. It's one of those things where ... you always want to go undefeated, but I'd rather have a loss in there to learn some lessons. It's good to have a wake-up call. We had a nice run from the first loss basically all the way to (the game against) New Albany, but there are a lot of lessons to be learned from a mental standpoint, a skill standpoint and a game standpoint."
DeSales, which defeated Watterson 13-7 on May 4, has not won a regional championship since 2013.
The regional champion will play Cincinnati Indian Hill, Cincinnati Mariemont, Cincinnati Seven Hills or Cincinnati Summit Country Day in a state semifinal Wednesday, May 30, at a neutral site. The state final is June 2 at Ohio Wesleyan.
"I like to say the motto 'eyes on the prize but one game at a time,'" Clayton said. "That's the motto we've adopted. That's how I operate."
Boys track team wins district title
Six first-place finishes helped the boys track and field team win its first district championship since 2012, as the Stallions amassed 124.5 points in the Division II, district 2 meet that concluded May 19 at Westerville North to finish ahead of runner-up Heath (109) as 12 teams scored.
Angelo Ricci won the long jump (20 feet, 5 1/2 inches), A.J. Sallee finished first in the 110-meter hurdles (11.5 seconds), Isaiah Thomas won the 200 (21.95), Art Williams won the 400 (48.44) and those four combined to win the 800 relay (1:30.1).
The 1,600 relay of Ian McCandlish, Jon Pusateri, Williams and Caden Zellner also finished first (3:26.59).
The top four finishers in each event advanced to regional Thursday, May 24, and Saturday, May 26, at Lexington.
Also qualifying were Sallee in the 200 (second, 22.99), Thomas in the 100 (second, 11.37), the 3,200 relay (second, 8:11), McCandlish in the 800 (third, 1:58.24), Noah Thompson in the 300 hurdles (third, 32.86), Ben Towler in the 1,600 (third, 4:32.11) and Zion Parker in the 800 (fourth, 1:59.06).
At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to state June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
The girls team's season came to an end in the Division I, district 1 meet that concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby, as no Stallions qualified for the regional May 23 and Friday, May 25, at Pickerington North.
The Stallions' top finishes came from Alexis Johnson, who placed fifth in the 300 hurdles (47.36), and Anna D'Andrea, who was sixth in the discus (102-0).
Girls lacrosse team rolls to tourney wins
The girls lacrosse team outscored its first two Division II, Region 7 tournament opponents by a combined 40 goals to roll into a regional semifinal at home May 22 against fourth-seeded Granville.
Top-seeded DeSales defeated 16th-seeded Centennial 21-0 in the first round May 16 at home and routed ninth-seeded Dayton Chaminade-Julienne 20-1 in a home quarterfinal May 19.
Sophia Finotti and Payton Nebraska each had a combined five goals in the two games as 19 Stallions scored at least one goal.
The Stallions were 16-3 before playing the Blue Aces.
The semifinal winner will play second-seeded Academy or third-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in the regional final Friday, May 25, at a neutral site. The regional champion will play Cincinnati Turpin, Indian Hill, Mariemont or Summit Country Day in a state semifinal Wednesday, May 30, at a neutral site. The state final is June 2 at Ohio Wesleyan.
DeSales beat Kilbourne 21-12 on March 20, defeated Mariemont 15-11 on April 13, edged Academy 8-7 in overtime April 25 and beat Indian Hill 9-8 on May 5.
Volleyball season ends against Eagles
The boys volleyball team lost its only Division II East Region tournament match, falling to third-seeded Watterson 25-15, 20-25, 25-17, 29-27 in the second round May 19 at Kilbourne.
DeSales, which was seeded fifth of 10 teams, finished 7-13.
The Stallions ended the regular season May 15 with a 25-16, 25-14, 25-16 win over Whetstone.
No-hitter ends baseball team's season
The baseball team's offense that averaged 8.8 runs through 28 games was completely handcuffed in its 29th, as Hartley pitchers Matthew McElligott and Luke Rawlins combined to no-hit the second-seeded Stallions in a Division II district final May 17 at Blacklick Elementary School.
The sixth-seeded Hawks scored the game's only one run in the first inning when Rawlins singled in Phillip Cole.
DeSales, which was seeking its third consecutive district championship, finished 19-10 overall.
"I never know what to expect going into games," coach Tom Neubert said. "I certainly felt we could score runs and we didn't score any. You can't win games if you don't score runs. They got us out on our front foot and we popped everything up."
Stallions senior pitcher Greg Gilbert was solid himself, striking out nine and walking one.
DeSales and Hartley played two much-higher scoring games during the regular season en route to sharing the CCL championship. The Stallions won 10-0 in five innings on April 18 before the Hawks won 14-10 on April 30.
Both teams went 6-2 in the CCL to finish ahead of St. Charles and Watterson (both 4-2) and Ready (0-8).
DeSales cruised through its first two games of the 23-team district tournament, routing 19th-seeded Amanda-Clear-creek 10-0 in the second round May 10 at home before beating 10th-seeded Heath 7-2 in a district semifinal May 16 at New Albany.
Junior Joey Velazquez (P/OF), an Ohio State commit, led the Stallions in batting average (.525) and hits (42) and tied with Gilbert, a Butler recruit, for the team lead in RBI with 37 and senior catcher Nick Renken for the team lead in home runs with three. Gilbert batted .402 with 39 hits and went 6-1 on the mound with a 1.11 ERA, 66 strikeouts and only four walks in 45 innings.
Renken is an Ohio Dominican recruit.
Gilbert, senior third baseman Jonathan Mager (.402, 35 hits, 35 RBI), Renken and Velazquez all were named first-team all-CCL. Junior Colin Doyle (P/1B/3B) was second-team all-league. Velazquez was named district Player of the Year, Gilbert was first-team all-district and Mager was second-team all-district.
Others eligible to return include juniors Aaron Kauser (C/P/1B) and Michael Pallaci (P) and sophomores Nathan Borghese (P/INF/OF) and Owen Faulkner (P/INF/OF).
Tennis season ends at district
The boys tennis team's season came to an end in the first round of the Division II district tournament May 17 at Academy, when the doubles team of senior Dylan Benedict and sophomore Liam Verfurth lost to Wellington's Connor Biernat and Grif Biernat 6-0, 6-0.
The top two finishers in singles and doubles advanced to state Friday, May 25, and Saturday, May 26, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Benedict and Verfurth's loss concluded the team's best season since 2011. DeSales went 10-5 overall, its most wins in seven years, and 2-2 in the CCL to finish third behind St. Charles (4-0) and Watterson (3-1) and ahead of Hartley (1-3) and Ready (0-4).
Benedict and Verfurth finished fourth in a sectional that concluded May 12 at Academy as the top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district.
While Benedict is one of four seniors, the Stallions expect to return five players who saw significant varsity time this year. In addition to Verfurth, others eligible to return are sophomores Will McAfee-Weatherspoon and Nate Stevens and freshmen Kevin Heil, Michael James and Sam Secrest.
"The impact that the freshman class made was a little surprising," coach Tom Snyder said. "Sam Secrest had some big wins for us at third singles and Michael James found a home at second doubles and was successful there. Kevin Heil went 5-2 in doubles play. In total, the freshmen combined for 20 wins."